Wheelchairs, Hearing Aids For Senior Citizens Living BPL: Centre

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New Delhi: The Union government has proposed to come out with a scheme to give assistive devices such as tripod walking sticks, wheel-chairs and hearing aids to the elderly living below poverty line (BPL) from the coming financial year, a senior official said on Thursday.

The scheme in this regard is currently being formulated, Anand Katoch, Director of National Institute of Social Defence, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, said at an international conference on services to the elderly.

“That scheme will be very useful. I hope it will be a good scheme,” he said, adding, “most probably” it would be launched in the next financial year.

Katoch also said the National Policy for Older Persons formulated in 1999, which was renamed as National Policy for Senior Citizens last year, is being reviewed to add some features to provide better services for the elderly. These proposed features include providing trained manpower for the elderly people, promotion of research activity on ageing, and giving assistance to universities, medical colleges and other research institutes, he said.

“When it (the new policy) comes up, it will add to the welfare aspects of senior citizens”, he said at the two-day conference, organised by The Global Ageing Network and Heritage Foundation India.

HelpAge India’s Chief Executive Mathew Cherian said India has 103 million senior citizens, including 51 million under BPL and added that “there is total lack of services for the elderly.” Citing a 2006 report, Cherian said one in three elderly persons in India reported some form of abuse by their children.

He said the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act in 2007 is “not working” and needs to be improved and made better.

Responding to this, Katoch said the problem in India is that parents don’t complain against their children.

Deputy Director of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Prof S Siva Raju said projections clearly show that India is experiencing almost double the population growth rate of senior citizens compared to general population. “That means ageing is here and it’s very much accelerated,” he said.

Stressing on quality of life in old age, another speaker said, “There is large-scale migration in India. In fact, 475 million people in this country are currently not living in the place where they were born. 20 million Indians are living abroad. What happens to their parents?”

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